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CERTI, INCERTI AC´TIO are names used to denote two varieties of Roman actions, viz. those in which what is claimed is a determinate sum of money, thing or things, and those in which the claim is for something indeterminate, respectively.

Whether an actio is certi or incerti is to be ascertained by looking at the intentio of its formula. In actions which were Real in form as well as in substance (i. e. those tried per formulam petitoriam, Gaius, 4.92) the object or right claimed was specified in the intentio (Gaius, 4.3), so that the action may be said to be certi, as Gaius (4.54) seems to have considered it. But it is in personal actions, especially those on contract, that the opposition is most strongly marked. Where the plaintiff's contention was that a specific sum of money or a specific object was due to him from the defendant, the intentio was certa, and ran (e. g.) “si paret reum decem sestertios dare oportere (condictio certi),” or “si paret reum tritici vini &c. centum modios dare oportere (condictio triticaria).” But where what he claimed was not of this determinate character, but he merely asked that a sum of money due to him as damages should be ascertained by the judge, the intentio was incerta, and was characterised by the words “quicquid [reum] dare facere oportet” (Gaius, 4.47, 136, 137). This was the case in condictio incerti and in the bonae fidei judicia. The terms certa and incerta are also applied by Gaius (4.49-52) to another constituent part of the formula, viz. the condemnatio, which was certa when a specific sum of money was fixed in it, incerta when not. The first was the case only where the claim was for an ascertained sum of money (Gaius, 4.50). In all other actions the condemnatio would either be absolutely incerta (or infinita, Gaius, 4.51), as in a Real action, or incerta cum taxatione, e.g. “judex reum [p. 1.407]duntaxat decem milia condemna:” here the judge might fix the damages below the sum named, but he could not exceed it without rendering himself liable to an action (Gaius, 4.52).


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